Bob Franken




This Independence Day weekend, two professional sports teams were finally forced to deal with names that offend people who were here way before them. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump stayed mute on the sidelines.
Yes, even Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington NFL team whose racist name he said he’d “NEVER” change, is now being forced to ponder a CHANGE. Why? It’s certainly not out of principle; Snyder has no principles, nor much ability to field a winning team. But he’s being coerced to conduct a “thorough review” of the name — a review that was forced on him by targeting the only thing he cares about … his wallet. It seems that his corporate sponsors, who are themselves only now discovering that there is racism in the United States of America, have threatened to withhold the millions of dollars that have sustained these leagues all along.
It’s not just a football team that has suddenly developed a conscience, but a baseball franchise too. The Cleveland Indians, in this new era of examining all things bigoted, can no longer ignore the complaints of Native Americans and has decided to “determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.” In other words, we can chalk up another win to the almighty dollar.
What will they call themselves if they actually change their brand name? Already there are ideas flitting about. I personally prefer the Cleveland Fire, a tribute to the flames that suddenly erupted on the Cuyahoga River back in 1969. As for the Washington R-words, there are so many possibilities. How about the Sleazebags, a tribute to the special interest lobbyists who are the only ones who can afford tickets to a football game?

Meanwhile, Donald Trump forged ahead with a rally in South Dakota this weekend, oblivious to the Native Americans who consider the Mount Rushmore statues an intrusion on their sacred land. He was hellbent on having one of his sacred photo ops. This one involved the four presidents carved out of the Black Hills, with Trump clearly suggesting that he ought to be the fifth.
He also seemed heedless of the pandemic that is threatening death and illness to his fellow Americans, not the least of whom were those packed in the Mt. Rushmore amphitheater. Most of them were not wearing masks, as his followers are wont to do. He treated them to a really harsh view of his enemies circling around him, as in those outraged by American prejudice looking to topple memorials to the racists:
“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”
The darkness was lit up with flyovers and fireworks. And then it was back to the Swamp, where POTUS once again staged another fireworks display. This time he called protestors “anarchist agitators.” He had overridden objections of the mayor and public health experts, who argued that big crowds would certainly lead to more COVID cases, which are already spiraling out of control.
It’s why sports teams, for the safety of their fans, are planning to play their games for cameras only, with no one allowed to watch in person. However, many of the athletes are questioning whether they should endanger themselves and their families by participating. Is the glory worth the hazard?
At least the team owners have been swept up in the new consciousness that followed the death of George Floyd, which has spread to include all people who are oppressed in the United States.
Spread to everyone but Donald Trump and his fervid supporters, who are motivated by grievance. Trump is basing his campaign for re-election on feeding their resentments as the world passes them by. If he can whip up their frenzy, it might work.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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